Tuesday, July 31, 2007

love hangs in there

Love as seen in Jesus and described in Scripture is something to be worked into our hearts and into our very bones. It needs to become a part of who we are, and we a part of what it is. This is possible in God; in the love of God in Christ; in the love of God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I think a good question to ask in our lives, especially when we meet up against inevitable difficulties, what does this love look like here? We need to get into Scripture to see that, especially looking at the life of Jesus in its entirety. In that we can see and find and participate, by grace in this same love.

Love enables us to hang in there through the most difficult and trying times and troubles. When we would in our old selves simply have a meltdown or drop out, this love helps us to stay put, seeking to live out God's call to us in Christ through everything.

This is a call, at its heart to love God with all our being and doing, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This will mean some creativity and much patience, endurance and perseverance- all born of prayer to the God who is love. This love is beyond us, we don't have it; but it is a gift from God and a gift as we seek to follow on with the Lord, staying in communion with his people in mission to all other fellow sinners in this world.

What about you? How has God helped you to live in this love that is beyond us and live it out in your life?

Monday, July 30, 2007

faith and obedience

Is there saving faith apart from obedience? This has been debated among evangelicals, but I think it is safe to say that none of the Reformers nor the great Church before that made such a distinction. Luther and the Reformers did want to be sure that it was Christ's righteousness alone that was imputed/judicially given to the sinner who put their faith in Jesus (the Anabaptists with Menno Simons, etc., had trouble with the teaching of imputed righteousness, so differed). But faith was at least evidenced by good works in obedience to God, and the two in a sense were linked together.

I really don't like the teaching "once saved always saved" because though it does not necessarily lend itself to a separtation of faith and obedience, too often I'm afraid, it does. For me in this post it's beside the point whether "once saved always saved" is actually true. All I want to insist on is that while faith on the part of the sinner comes from God's grace, for that faith to be proved real there must follow obedience.

Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship likens this to our Lord's call to Peter to come out to him on the water. Peter, to really have faith in this word from the Lord must step out in faith. Otherwise he could say what he will, but there would be no faith in that word if there was no obedience. We see this in other calls of Jesus to others, such as in the case of the rich young ruler. In that case, of course, there was no obedience therefore there was no faith.

If I'm struggling in defeat in my life, then I have to step back and look at what's going on and ask if I really do have faith. Faith involves following Jesus, so this involves obedience to the word of Jesus no matter how difficult or impossible that call may come across to us, and of course apart from the grace of God in Christ such a command is impossible for us to obey. This amounts to the death of our old selves and of course that is never comfortable in itself. But from that comes the new life and finding our true self in Jesus. And this is a reality for us only as we really seek to live it out, our one concern to follow Christ in complete obedience.

I'm working on this and I want to do so in fellowship with other followers, but I must be sure that I'm meeting the issues in my own life as I seek to live this out with others.

What stands in the way in our lives to this simplicity of obedience to God's word in Christ? Is this thinking making faith a work? Are faith and works distinguishable in one crucial way, yet inseparable in another crucial way?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

prayer for the week

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

from Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, July 28, 2007

tagged, I'm now it!

Monica Tutak tagged me and I'm now to share eight things about myself and or my spouse that most people don’t know.

1. My wife, Deb, is not only an avid horse lover, but she paints and draws as well.
2. Deb also has a gift for helping the sick, especially those who are older and in hospice as a nursing assistant.
3. Deb is a vegan on the Hallelujah Diet, no meat or dairy (100% as far as what she controls most of the time); she is much healthier as a result, and so am I- who along for the ride gets in about 80+% in the same way of eating.
4. Deb likes to take walks with the dog and myself.
5. I would like to read at least three hours a day.
6. I like to spend time with people.
7. I would like to write a book, if it could help others in some way.
8. I would like to travel more; maybe even doing this!

Now I will tag some of my friends who I think will do this, or wouldn't mind doing so: Craver VII; Halfmom, AKA, Susan; KM; Llama Momma. If you’re up to the challenge, list eight things about yourself and or your spouse that most people don’t know.

Friday, July 27, 2007

change takes time

I think too many times, too many of us Christians have bailed out of a commitment to work on an issue, because we did not see an immediate breakthrough. But change takes time. Yes, there are breakthroughs by faith at times, but even most of those times we find that growth in grace in regard to whatever issue it is we're working on, takes time. We may sense and see lack of progress, or even at times a falling back into our old ways. We must not give up, but repent and press on by faith.

When we do so we will find God's grace there for us, in forgiving and cleansing ways in God's love for us. But that doesn't mean all the sudden we've arrived. We need to keep "our feet to the fire" and keep trusting and obeying God in regard to the issue, so that in the long haul we will change, and become different people, more and more like God's Son, more and more his ways becoming "second nature" to us.

What might you like to share on this?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

life as a sacrifice of love

Life as a sacrifice of love is a description of Christ's life for us and for the world. But it's also a description of our life in Christ and following Christ. Of course it is grounded in the foundation who is Christ as well as the foundational act, which is Christ's work of love in dying for us, for our sins and the sins of the world. From that we live, and that life that we live is a Christ-life he lives out in us by the Spirit and we live out in cooperation with him, in faith and obedience to God.

This takes in everything, all that we face and experience. It ends up being swallowed up in this reality, so that we can live this out and grow in the grace of doing so.

Do we see all we experience in this light, particularly the difficult things and problems we encounter, the trials and even temptations? We are called to be little christs, and in Christ we are. And this is the life that we need to see in each other and that the world needs to see from us, a life that points them to its true source: Christ.

What would you add here?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

our reason or faith?

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but--more frequently than not --struggles against the divine Word...

Martin Luther, Table Talk (1569)

Are we as God's children in Christ servants of the Word? Yes, we are. Word here Luther is refering to is Scripture. We are servants of the Word, Christ, as well as the word, Scripture.

As servants of the word of God we are in an optimal/most favorable place to be sure that it is the word alone that moves and dictates our existence, not our reason, experience or anything else. That must be our goal and endeavor.

I find Luther's quote here from his Table Talk (I need to get my copy of that) helpful. I find reason always wanting to help in unhelpful ways. Reason thinks it sees and knows best, and that it even sees according to Scripture. Yet I also find that dissecting reason, my reason from Scripture helps me see that it is taking me away from its pure (not in the sense of perfect, but in the sense of unsullied: the word alone) fulfillment of it.

I think a large part of what I'm getting at is found in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight

I find God's help and peace only when I submit to his word and am willing to cast my reason aside.

Reason is a gift from God but it is to be a servant of God's revelation. It is under God's revelation, not over. The problem is when it usurps the place of God's revelation or the place of God himself. And reason cannot be the interpreter of God's revelation found in Scripture and in Jesus Christ.

We are servants of the word of God. Let us live according to that word alone, placing ourselves under it and in so doing under the care, goodness and guidance of God.

What might you add to this?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

keep reading and praying the psalms

Both Eugene Peterson in Eat This Book, as well as Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together speak of us praying the psalms in and through Jesus Christ. The first time I read Bonhoeffer on this I was scratching my head, though I did think there was truth there. Yes, it was afternoon break, and no, I'm not necessarily that coherent that time of day. I kept after it, reading it repeatedly and it began to make more and more sense to me. Not that I understand it well yet, but I'll keep working on it.

One thing is for sure, keep reading and praying the psalms, and do so as God's child and part of Christ's Body, in and through Jesus Christ. These psalms can help us through the darkest days and times in our lives. Every general human experience and mood seems present in them.

And we know that through Christ and his coming in his Incarnation, life, death and resurrection, these psalms take on a kind of fulfillment that we end up participating in together. The psalms in a sense become the prayer of all of us, as God's people in Christ. And it is Christ himself who prays them with us and in him that we find their meaning in God's judgment and grace that comes through Christ. This is praying in the Spirit and it is also praying according to God's word and the revelation of God we see in Jesus from the gospels as well as the rest of the New Testament.

Keep reading and praying the psalms. There's everything in Scripture we need, and the psalms themselves in some form, contain all of that. Who of us isn't facing difficulties, hard knocks, impossibilities, temptations, at times failures- all that life can throw at us? God will help us, as we help ourselves to this inspired song and prayer book: Psalms.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jesus prays for us

Jesus prays for us- "he always lives to make intercession for [us]" (Heb. 7:25). The verb is in the present tense. This is the most important thing to know about prayer, not that we should pray or how we should pray but that Jesus is right now praying for us (see also Heb. 4:16 and John 17).

Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading , p. 106.

This is a blessed truth that we need to remember. We can count on this: Jesus will not fail in praying for us as his people. We do fail, time and time again, though we want to grow and do better, and we should.

Just the same it is good and important for us to fall back time and time again on this truth and reality. And how much we need it. Left to ourselves we would fail and give up, but because of Jesus's intercessions in prayer, meaning that he prays for us with petitions to the Father- we keep getting up and going on in spite of ourselves because of him.

This blessed truth took hold of me the other day after I had read it in this book, coming afresh and anew to me. I sensed God's peace in spite of myself and my struggles; maybe someone was praying for me somewhere and God always honors that. One thing we should in faith count on: Jesus is always praying for us as one who is one with us as well as one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

How has this truth impacted you, or what might you like to add here?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

prayer for the week

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

from Jesus Creed, and from Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, July 21, 2007

the Bible and life

I share Eugene Peterson's lack of enthusiasm for Bible promise books and the books or teachings designed to make us feel better, meet our perceived needs and satisfy our wants (Peterson's "the replacement Trinty" in reverse order). As he points out, the life of Scripture and our lives do line up. Oftentimes in Scripture things just don't seem to add up at all, and isn't that true, oftentimes in our own lives and in the lives of others?

We need to come to Scripture and let this word of God speak to us in its own terms and from the Word through whom it comes to us. It is meant not so things would turn out the way we would like, but so that we would learn to follow our Lord in obedience and faith even when life seems to make little or no sense at all.

We do need to be much in Scripture and with that goes reading (listening), meditating, praying and living, in a kind of interactive spiral, as Peterson puts it. These go together as he helpfully works through the Christian practice of lectio divina. That part alone is worth picking up this book, but really the entire book is more than worth the read.

So this means I find the life God has for me as it is: not as I want or think I need or what would make me feel better. But that I enter into the world of the text of Scripture and out from that, this Story enters into my world, and my story becomes a part of this Story of God.

Nice to have some time for reading during these summer weekends, and this is a good book to take up and read. What are your thoughts here, or what might you be reading this weekend?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Christian nonresistance

Recently I was challenged gently by a sister on war and nonresistance. I must say that the answers on either side have plenty of difficulties as well as seeming justification for their views (Just War and Christian Pacifist positions).

The position of Christian Pacificism would hold that we are to take the steps that Jesus took, in all of life. This means taking up our cross, which means following closely to the Lord, and thus finding his easy yoke and light burden (Bonhoeffer). The good news that Jesus brought was assured by him taking on himself the evil and sins of the world, not resisting that, so that the love of God could prevail in reconciling all peoples and creation to himself. We in Jesus are to live out this gospel in our lives, a good news bringing peace and overcoming evil with good.

To those who hold to Jesus's teaching of nonresistance, and actually all Christians must hold to it in one way or another, but I mean to those who hold it with a pacifist view, this means a refusal to take vengeance in one's own hands no matter what, because vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12). Repeatedly in the New Testament Christian nonresistance is linked to God's vengeance against the evildoing and evildoers (Volf).

I believe Christian participation in the military and in war is a watering down of what Jesus taught us and a compromise of the gospel itself. That is, if I profess to follow Christ and his way, this must be true in all of life, not just in my private life. If I'm willing to take up arms and kill during war, then I'm saying that the gospel and the way of Christ does not apply in that situation. Christians in Jesus are called to a different life, apart from the state, which has been established by God to execute his vengeance on evildoers. But in Christ, I believe, this is not a part of the calling of the believer.

I know this is short, and many good Christians ardently disagree. I believe in the end we must subject all things to Scripture, and especially look at the life of Jesus when he was on earth, as well as all that is written about this present age between Christ's first and second comings. Some of the arguments I've heard against Christian pacifism and nonresistance, I'm afraid, don't do this. We must keep searching the Scriptures and work on this.

Anyone for nonresistance?

Great links: Why I am a pacifist and Paul and War from Scot McKnight

And my seven part series on this (links at bottom): Christians and war

Thursday, July 19, 2007

seeking God

The psalms redound with this ring to seek the LORD, to seek his face, along with other passages in Scripture. I believe we often do this because we know that we're lost, and that's half the battle.

To seek God's face is to seek his light found in his countenance, revealed to us Spirit-ually, by revelation in an experiential way, not only in the mind. And it is to seek his blessing in helping us through difficulties and impossibilities, to ourselves, that we may walk in the way of the Lord.

What do we do? A good way to go about it is to open up to the psalms. Start at Psalm 1 and begin praying your way through them, in the name of Jesus and even as one in Jesus, that is the psalms impacted and fulfilled by his person and work for us and the world.

This includes confession of our sins and petitions for God's forgiveness and restoration. Of course through Jesus' death we have the forgiveness of our sins, but to receive that we must really want it or choose it regardless of our wants and feelings. And as we seek God we open ourselves up to receive from him his grace to give us what we can never work up in ourselves.

Seeking God is often done in times of desperation, when we know that without God's help we're sunk. But we must be ready and willing to obey, seeking to do so eagerly, from the heart, not sugarcoating any sin, as sweet as it may seem to us, along with the bitterness it brings.

These are just some aspects of seeking God that I see in reading Scripture and in living and trying to do this very thing myself. What have you seen about seeking God?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

take the lower place

Jesus tells us in the gospels that when invited to a banquet one should take the lowest seat. Jesus speaks to us in our lives; humble yourself. Do you look for great things for yourself? Don't seek them (Jeremiah; word to Baruch).

This involves any number of things, including seeing others as better than ourselves, seeing ourselves as the worst of sinners (like Paul did) and acknowledging that at times we're the weaker brother or sister.

If we focus merely on taking the lower place this can become an end in itself and can end up making us proud of ourselves; after all, I took the lowest place here. Isn't that true greatness?

But this lowering of ourselves is simply to be an acknowledgement of who we really are and who God really is. This must work its way into our minds and hearts as a part of who and what we are. And we must be in Scripture to see it, as well as seeking the face of God in Christ.

Then comes the promise that whoever humbles themselves like this will be exalted. We find this to be the case with the one who was supreme in humbling himself; now exalted to the highest place. And we in him are exalted to true greatness that is in Christ as we learn to abide in this practice and stance of humility in truth and in love.

What thoughts might you add here?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

finding God's peace

To want to live in God's peace is a part of seeking to find God's will, I believe. We want the peace of God in our hearts with the sense of security, wholeness, and love of God that goes with that.

But I think we too often want just a singular, individual peace, when surely we should be looking for it in community with each other in Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace, Paul "wrote" to the Colossians. There are times when we can find God's will and his peace in seclusion, but normally, I believe, God wants us to learn how to live in his will, finding his peace in community.

This involves a whole host of things, such as encouraging each other, praying for one another, confessing sins to another, and so on as we read in the New Testament, all in the love of Christ which we give and receive from each other.

And it's not like we arrive, and that's it. It's continual, we must continue on in this way, learning more and more what it means to live in God's will, together, as we seek to follow Christ in mission to the world.

This has helped me in my life. Though I'm still working on what all this means as well as how it is worked out in life. What about you?

Monday, July 16, 2007

what God's will looks like

In a sense, as we read Scripture, and especially the story of Jesus there, we can pick up what God's will looks like in a person's life. But in another true sense we simply cannot.

I'm in a situation where I've been praying something like: "God, I really don't know what your will looks like in this situation. It is puzzling to me, and I want to seek to be open at all times for your direction."

This is part of what we're called to do in following Christ. Do we know where he is going? I refer here to our lives and the circumstances and issues we are encountering along the way. What are we to do? Oftentimes we may not know until we get there. And even then we seek to follow as best we can, knowing that our doing may at times be mistaken, or even wrong. But we seek to follow on, confident in the Lord that the Spirit by the Word/Scripture in community and even directly to us will help us see the error of our way, and if need be, repent, adjust and learn from it.

What thoughts would you like to share with us on this?

(Much of the thought here, while based on Scripture is influenced by my understanding from thoughts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

prayer for the week

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

from Jesus Creed and from Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, July 14, 2007


This sounds like a good word for a Saturday and for a weekend. As well as for those of us who in Jesus hold to a rest on Sunday (or Saturday).

Relax is important in life for us in Jesus, because life doesn't depend on us. We need to be layed back, in a way. Too often we walk around, talk and live as if it all depends on us. But while what we do or don't do is important, and especially the inward dispositions of our hearts, it still in a true sense all depends and hinges on God and his grace, as well as on the help we're called to give each other.

Let's emphasize relax. Even, and maybe especially so when we are busy. In that busyness and hard work, let us learn to relax with the truth that God is with us in Christ. And we know that only because of that will anything prosper according to God's will.

How do you relax in this way, or what thoughts might you add here?

Friday, July 13, 2007

remember Lot's wife

It's easy to give pat answers as to why Lot's wife looked back. But one need look only into their own hearts to find the answer, I think. At least that's true of me.

When one gets intrenched in a certain way of life it is much harder to get out. Your roots are there, you know the ropes, you're comfortable, and after all, we all struggle with sin and temptation. Lot had chosen to live among a people ripe for God's judgment and condemnation. Though Lot himself was righteous, as Peter tells us, he was vexed everyday with the ungodly lives of those in his city. Yet he was hardly on mission, but he was seeking to benefit himself from his associations there.

Lot's wife was all apart of this. How, and what exactly was occuring here, we can't say for sure, though we can know some things in general.

Jesus warns would-be followers of him, that if they are to so follow, they must not be like Lot's wife. There must be no looking back. Jesus makes it clear that it's a matter of giving up one's own life.

We hold on to what we love, don't we? It's hard to give up, even impossible in ourselves to avoid the same end as Lot's wife. Yet that's what God calls us to do.

Only in God through Christ by the Spirit can we do this. And it must be done, or at least ought to regularly be done in community. This is where our sin issues need to be straightened out. Notice in Lot's case, he and his family had no such community there. Nor had they become that kind of community themselves.

No looking back. We need to look one direction: towards Jesus, and the Jesus way of the cross: death to self unto resurrection and new life. A brand new life that leaves the other behind.

What would you add here?

Related Post
Charity: Wide Open Spaces: Recycled Lives

Thursday, July 12, 2007

God's peace

God's peace. It is shalom in the Old Testament, meaning God's blessing transforming all creation. In the New Testament influenced by Greek culture, peace takes on both an intrinsic and extrinsic meaning, for us as individuals and for us as community in Jesus.

But peace is not meant to stop there, as really is especially evident in shalom yet likewise is carried over in the New Testament meaning of it. In Christ we're to be proclaimers and bearers of God's peace, extending it to every sphere of life and activity that is ours, and beyond.

At its heart it is a peace that is healing the brokenness of creation, beginning with relationships of humans to God, then humans to each other (including ourselves), humans to God's creation and the healing of creation itself- all in the new creation in Christ.

When people see us they should see little christs (C.S. Lewis). And especially should this be so when they see us together in mission to the world. As we give ourselves even as the Lord gave himself in such mission, God's peace we'll be made known to many and will begin that work of transformation that is someday to cover all the earth.

What do you see in this peace of God that can help us better understand and live in it?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

don't give into sinful compulsions

I think it's important in our continued endeavor in seeking by the Spirit to put to death the (mis)deeds of the body (Romans 8), in our struggle against sin (Hebrews 12), to develop the habit of not giving into sinful impulses that would compel us to do wrong. We may reason something like, "Well, I'm wrong in my heart so I might as well do it." What we do does matter. And I'm especially thinking here of what we might consider "small" sins, or maybe not even sins at all, though we ought to know that whatever controls us is our master, not God.

We need to be in repentant prayer, also asking God to change our hearts and then quell whatever it is we would do however unnoticeable it might be, against the tide of our rebellious, driven, enslaved heart. As we do this on the basis of Christ and his work for us and our participation in that work by faith and through baptism, then I believe we can begin to experience something of a breakthrough from the Spirit of God in our lives. And we can get something of a true taste of the freedom God has for us in Christ which can impel us to continue on in this way.

This must become a habit of life. At the same time, I hope this is not coming across as a formula to follow, as we need to be in the Word, in prayer and rightfully in community. It's just making this one simple point: Again: Do not give into sinful compulsions by acting them out. In this way, prayerfully, seek by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body and so "live" the true, lasting life (Romans 8).

Of course I'm taking much for granted in this post. Like we know what "sin" is, which we can only understand from Scripture, as well as from conscience and our hearts, the latter being not entirely reliable since we're fallen and sinners.

Hope these recent posts about struggling against sin haven't weighed you down if you've read them. They come from someone who is living this out, this being kind of at the forefront of my Christian journey lately.

What might you add to this thought, here?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ideal summer evening

Sitting in the living room with the windows down and a nice cool breeze coming in, a book in hand, maybe Bach or the like playing in the background, perhaps a cup of coffee (definitely decaf this time of day) or maybe a cold beverage. Wife (Deb) not far away so you can chat between reading time. And hopefully no falling asleep in the process.

Now that's what I call an idyllic, normal evening in the summertime.

What's your idyllic, normal summertime evening look like?

Monday, July 09, 2007

being in Scripture and in life

I've been enjoying reading from Dietrich Bonhoeffer lately, and one of the things that seems to especially resonate in my reading of him is the importance of joining our time in Scripture with living in real life, as we seek to live in the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.

I believe in being much in Scripture; there is no substitute for that. At the same time Scripture, the Word of God impacts our lives in the here and now, it is down to earth, right where we live. Even though since it is God's Word, it must continue to come from him to us, impacting us in ways that are really beyond us, not surprising since it is, after all, the Word of God (yes, and Jesus is the Word of God to us as well, you might say the Word to whom God's word points).

What I want to say here is that our Scripture reading, prayer and waiting on God needs to and will, if we persist in this, impact our lives, right down to our heart's desires, thoughts, attitudes, words and actions. Bonhoeffer emphasizes being in the entire Word, reading it regularly from cover to cover. But at the same time he also taught that one should take a passage, and even a small part of it, and dwell on it for an entire week. I confined myself to a single passage at work last week, and found it a blessing for me, in fact I'm really not quite done with that passage even now.

Bonhoeffer saw that this was all to be worked out for us in life and he expressed that so well. This is not easy, and there are no cookie-cutter or formulaic ways that will insure us that we're following Christ. It's a God-thing so why should we expect to figure out exactly how or even what is going on? We must be continually open to God, seeking his will, seeking his face, desirous and eager to follow him.

How does this work out in your life? Is this becoming a passion for you?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

a prayer

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to your with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

from Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, July 07, 2007

enjoying my new hobby

Here's some pics from the digital camera which is becoming one of my favorite fun things to do:

My sisters, Cheryl and Maxine. Deb and I.

Our daughter Tiffany. Our dog Cleo(patra).

Deb and her favorite animal: a horse.

Summer beauty at Pokagon State Park (Indiana).

Friday, July 06, 2007

Jesus' invitation

Jesus callls us, even today:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
I am finding this to be true in my own life. When Jesus calls us he does so no matter why we're burdened down. It can be due to difficulties faced as in adversities, temptations, whatever. Or it can be even due to sin in our hearts and lives; of course of that he wants us to be open in confession before him. But we're to come to him with the promise that he will give us rest.

Jesus understands firsthand our human weaknesses and frailties. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. He became one of us to the very core of his being and helps us as such. He understands our struggle in a unique way, from both his human perspective, as well as from the perspective of Godness. (Hebrews)

Our hope is in Jesus and in this invitation. We come to Jesus and he gives us his life for ours. He gives us his rest, victory and work in place of our weariness, burden, defeat and despair. It's a completely different life, the beginning of such that we thus enter into.

If we're weary or burdened down for whatever reason, this invitation remains opened for us today. Come to Jesus; make every effort to enter into his rest. And let's make this the practice and endeavor of our lives, as we seek to follow Christ together.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

changes in life

Sometimes change comes hard for humans. Of course change is a part of life, and in it we can find God's hand to mold us more and more into the image of Christ if we only look for that. As we look for that, we can learn to thank God even for those things we don't like about the adjustments and perhaps sacrifices we have to make.

When I think of the life of faith as portrayed in Scripture in people's lives, including the life of Jesus, it is one full of change. Change was constant, but also God was and is constant in the midst of all our changes. As we live in the way of the Lord, the way of Christ, we can be assured of God's help in the midst of the certain uncertainty of life.

What about you? What has helped you in the inevitable changes in your life?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day (United States)

Today is Independence Day in the United States of America. I thank God for this nation, for the freedom we have here to worship God. May that freedom and peace extend to all peoples everywhere.

Borrowing from Scot McKnight's blog Jesus Creed today, I post a prayer and the Declaration of Independence.

A Prayer for our Country from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation upon such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are long accustomed. But [our grievances are neither light nor transient, and a list of them follows….]

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

holding on to sin

Sometimes in our struggle against sin, or a sin, I'm convinced by experience that our problem can lie simply in our insistence on holding on to a sin.

We know theologically/Scripturally that our thoughts, attitudes and perhaps actions, are in violation of God's revealed will. We perhaps are justifying ourselves in convincing ourselves that we are justified in it. Or we can at least be excusing ourselves.

Sometimes too, I think the question can come to us, "Do you want this, or do you want me, God?" Too often we think we can have both. Yes, God is a god of forgiveness, mercy and love, of incomparable, amazing grace who continues to reach out and even still bestow blessing in spite of our sin, oftentimes. But God won't leave us to wallow in our sins, though in a sense he indeed does, such wallowing being its own punishment.

Instead of holding on to our sin, we need to simply let go of it in confession and renunciation of it before God.

Those who conceal their sins do not prosper,
but those who confess and renounce them find mercy.
Proverbs 28:13
What wisdom might you add to this for us?

Monday, July 02, 2007

the divisiveness of politics

Lately I've come to see that my avoidance of the news altogether is not really Christian, in fact I'm shirking part of Christ's calling to me, I think. Though there may be those special seasons of getting away from it, for me especially the political campaigns and much related to that.

John R.W. Stott believed Christians and particularly pastors were called to be students of Scripture and of the world in which we live. I believe he's right. How can we become all things to all people unless we know what that means? Only by getting to know others and really caring about what's going on in our world, can we truly follow Christ and bring his good news to bear on it.

At the same time I'm saddened by the divisiveness that politics can cause between Christians who equally love the Lord. I think we need to accept our differences and after trying to persuade the other, continue to love one another. I want to be open to correction, yet at the same time I have to do so only after thoroughly thinking through issues.

Take the abortion issue. What issue is hotter in Amerca than that one? I look at the paradigm set forth in Scripture and in Jesus of the kingdom of God, then I look at what is set forth in Washington D.C., and elsewhere for the answers to abortion and everything else. Then I make up my mind according to what I perceive from Scripture and from the world of politics, in this case in Washington D.C., and precisely on the abortion issue.

I was raised in a staunch Republican area in Ohio and was that for years. In Michigan I registered as an Independent, my thinking curbed considerably, though my ballot was still marked the same. Next time around (and last here in Michigan) my ballot may not end up the same as in the past. I try to take everything in consideration, abortion, the poor, world affairs, etc. I believe we have the freedom and grace from Christ to vote differently come November 2008. And we need good people in both the parties as well as elsewhere, who challenge much of the status quo everywhere.

I can't vote just on the basis of one single issue. However my vote is never cast without consideration of every issue or of the whole. Now I'm not saying I'm a great student of these elections, I hope I do well with what I actually do, but I realize it's very limited.

I know this is scattered. But what might you like to add to this barrage of thoughts on politics? How can we avoid letting it become divisive? Maybe we need to take that initiative on ourselves and not assume there has to be division. Or maybe we just remain silent, certainly wise on some occasions at least. What's your take here?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

prayers for before and after any work


O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, Thou hast said, "Without me you can do nothing." In faith I embrace Thy words, O Lord, and bow before Thy goodness. Help me to complete the work I am about to begin for Thine own glory: in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Thou, O Christ, art Thyself the fulfillment of all good things! Fill my soul with joy and gladness, and save me, for Thou art all merciful.

Eastern Orthodox Prayers